Once Amy Nielsen of North Liberty set her mind on getting involved with government in one of Iowa’s fastest-growing cities there was no stopping her.
When Mayor Tom Salm died unexpectedly in 2014, she pursued a council appointment after nine-year councilor Gerry Kuhl was appointed mayor. The city council chose someone else.
Nielsen then ran for mayor and defeated Kuhl in a tight race, garnering 55 percent of the vote.
She’s running for election in the June 7 primary to represent Iowa House District 77 in the Iowa legislature. I believe there will be no stopping Amy Nielsen now either.
There is a lot to like about her.
“My primary ‘career’ is being a mom,” she said in a recent email.
Nielsen was born in Keokuk and grew up in Eastern Iowa. She attended Kirkwood Community College before moving to South Carolina where husband Jason took a job with Kimberly Clark. Nielsen took a job in a bank there. They followed his work to Utah, where their first daughter Catie was born, to Tennessee where son Ben was born, and to Wisconsin where daughter Jillian was born. The family next moved to Atlanta, which they found was “not a good fit.”
“We decided it was time to come back to Iowa,” Nielsen said. “We knew we wanted to raise our kids here. My husband was hired at Alliant Energy and we chose to settle in North Liberty.”
In 2007 the family moved and a few years later Nielsen burst on the scene of public engagement. She worked as a volunteer in a number of community organizations including local schools, the Iowa City Blue Zones Project, the North Liberty Community Pantry and more.
Nielsen is engaged fully in life and has the audacity to run for office to get things done for her family and her constituents.
“As a graduate of Iowa City Public Schools, and a parent of three children currently enrolled in those same schools, I know first-hand how important a world-class education is to our state’s future,” Nielsen said in a press release for her house bid. “I’m deeply concerned that some in Des Moines are shortchanging our children by refusing to invest in Iowa’s public schools.”
When asked how she would replicate outgoing State Representative Sally Stutsman’s connections in rural parts of District 77, Nielsen responded.
“I will do what I have always done,” she said, “which is proactively seek input from individual stakeholders that have more knowledge and experience to learn about their specific needs.”
Part of living in a fast-growing community is the expansion of low-wage jobs and North Liberty has more than its share of them.
“I am in favor of a state-wide higher minimum wage,” Nielsen said. “I would like to find a way to close the loop holes that allow for exemptions or advantages for doing things like using ‘temporary’ workers or ‘subcontracting.’ This is just a way to boost profits on the backs of low wage earners.”
Check out Nielsen’s campaign website, amyforiowa.com for her position on other issues. However, policy isn’t the only reason to like Amy Nielsen.
In the face of disparaging remarks by outgoing Mayor Kuhl in 2014, Nielsen handled herself well.
“I have largely ignored the criticism of Gerry Kuhl,” Nielsen said. “He was quoted after the election as saying ‘the mayor doesn’t have any power anyway’ and he was wrong. The mayor sets the attitude and tone of not only the council and staff, but the entire community. I firmly believe certain opportunities have come our way because of the change in leadership.”
I’m proud to offer my support to Amy Nielsen in her bid to win the Democratic primary in House District 77.